The FCC sent out the first checks from its Emergency Connectivity Fund, an effort to help fill the “homework gap” in schools by covering the cost of computers and Internet services. Thousands of school districts, in every state plus DC, Guam and Puerto Rico, will share this first $ 1.2 billion distribution, and there is still a lot more soon.
The problem they seek to alleviate is the large number of students who, in an age when study, homework and even classes are all done online, do not have a device or adequate internet connection to participate. . This exacerbates an existing inequality, as these students often do not have access to other resources and end up falling behind through no fault of their own.
The ECF was designed to tackle this and funded earlier this year as part of the Big Pandemic Stimulus Bill. It’s a $ 7 billion program in total, but the money is distributed over time as schools and libraries make their formal requests, claiming they have to cover the cost. of those many tablets, wireless access points or broadband connections. The FCC appears to support the bill as long as the request is reasonable and the documents are in order.
âFrom small rural libraries like the Sesser Public Library in Sesser, Ill., To large school districts like Baltimore City Public Schools, this first wave of funding will provide more than 3 million connected devices for the distance learning and will make a major dent in closing one of the cruelest parts of the digital divide, âFCC Interim President Jessica Rosenworcel said in the press release.
It is not evenly distributed, but distributed according to the applications received. The state’s largest recipient is New York with $ 243 million (including $ 192 million for NYC), followed by Texas with $ 97 million and California with $ 71 million. Several states received significantly less (Wyoming and South Dakota received less than $ 100,000 each), but this could very easily be because those districts simply choose to complete their paperwork for the second disbursement of funds.
To that end, September 28 marks a new application period, for equipment and services used from last July to next June – although the FCC has noted that it is still processing applications for the first batch, so if your district didn’t get a response on this, don’t worry. And if they haven’t applied yet, better get started!
You can view the full list of recipients, broken down by district and amount, in the spreadsheet linked here.